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2. FEATURE: Choosing the Best eZine Service
An eZine (electronic newsletter) is one of the best ways to keep in contact with clients and prospective clients. Once you have an idea of what to write about, how do you get your message to your subscriber list without emailing everyone individually?
Andrea Lee has the answers in this article, excerpted with permission, from her 39 Lessons course.
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Choose a Service Provider
As with many things online, there is a sea of choices which can take time to wade through. So instead, consider these preferred recommended vendors first, and save yourself some time and money.
Dean Wiebe has created a slick system that you install on your own server, and costs $195. This is a one-time fee that allows you to create an unlimited number of lists, with an unlimited number of subscribers.
This is the best value for money I have found, and I usually look pretty hard. The only drawback of Dean’s system is that as of yet, he does not provide the option to time-release broadcasts. You can tell the system to send a broadcast on a certain date if you are going to be on vacation, but you can’t tell it to send three days after the last issue.
Although Dean has indicated he will be releasing an updated version that includes this option, know that it’s not available right now. To be fair, because the system also requires you to host it, you will need at least an hour or two of technical help getting it installed, which may cost up to $100.
(For the latter, I highly recommend Judith Buddle of http://www.ejude.com. Within an hour or two, you will be all set up. After installation, the system is simple as silk to use, and highly intuitive)
AWeber.com is a simple list management system on steroids. In fact, it bills itself as an autoresponse and sales lead management system, which it certainly is, however it performs all the basic functions of an ezine management system.
Double opt-in, multiple lists as well as timed broadcasts are all available with AWeber, and because it is a hosted service, you will not have to install anything. Payments are monthly, and there are several packages to choose from.
When Dean’s service just won’t do, I’ve relied heavily on Aweber.com in the last six months and am enjoying some of its more sophisticated bells and whistles. Customer service live online is fast and willing, which is a plus.
This is a service that I understand is very good, and if EzEzine had been released before I committed to the above two services, I would likely be a customer.
As it stands, you should know that EzEzine has a wonderful start up option that allows you to use it for free, up to a certain number of broadcasts and subscribers. This is their “lite” version, if you will.
Once you have the need and the demand for your broadcasts, you can easily and seamlessly upgrade your package.
Lastly, if you already use a shopping cart system, it’s very likely that you already have all of the above! And if you don’t already have a shopping cart system, but anticipate one in your near future, you may simply forgo the above and go whole hog with the shopping cart system.
Web Contact Pro
The shopping cart system I highly recommend is Web Contact Pro.
WebContactPro is unparalleled, in my experience, for service with a smile, a real telephone number for help when needed, and really sweet features such as recurring billing and more. This one truly is a gem, folks.
Two important final notes…
One – As much as it’s a feat just to get one ezine management system in place, it’s wise to consider a back up system in case something happens to your primary one.
I happen to be the proud owner of an account with all but EzEzine.com above, and happily anticipate that if one of the services were to be down for any reason, I would have no problem using a redundant system to keep business going. Reserve is a good thing.
Two – New legislation in place as of January 2004 requires that ezine list owners such as ourselves follow certain policies.
In very brief, the best rule of thumb is to maintain a strict double-opt-in policy such as described above, and…include in every email your company’s full name, address and telephone number, along with a clear and easy unsubscribe link.
For any further legal advice on the issue of compliancy with new email legislation, I highly recommend legal counsel in the form of the brilliant Bob Silber. Bob’s free ezine (also double-opt-in) is available here: http://www.BobSilberletter.com.
Although fearsome sounding, the rules really are simple, and if followed, provide no real reason for unrest.
Onward and upward!
Best to you, Andrea Lee
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Thanks Andrea for helping us narrow down our choices!. Yes, it can be overwhelming. I’d also like to say I love my shopping cart/newsletter system that you can read about here: www.ShoppingCartReview.netI haven’t found anything to beat it.
If you have been procrastinating on starting a eZine, is now perhaps the time to start?
1) Chose an eZine service provider
2) Play around with the system and send test emails
3) Set up your subscriber page (most systems can show you how to do that)
4) Start building your list! (for a past newsletter on this, click here.)
(P.S. Got a comment on this article? Add it to the BLOG)